Chapter 25

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When they left the office, the attendant, who had been waiting in advance, guided them to the accommodation.

“I will take you to Trian.”

Leonhard’s face, who had struggled to keep his composure, hardened.

“His Highness must have been very angry.”

“Is there any problem?”

“You’ll know when you go.”

“Lord, please do not misunderstand.”

The attendant who was guiding bowed his head as if he was sorry, “His Highness has judged for himself that Trian will be convenient for carrying out the mission as it is free to enter and exit.
If you are still hesitant, I will post a report.”

“It’s fine.”

Leonhardt replied coldly.

“It will only be a week or so, and there is no need to change it.”

Eventually, they reached their destination.

Celine’s eyes widened.
There was a small and pretty brick house in front of her that did not fit into a luxurious palace.

Leonhard muttered softly next to her.

“Among those many rooms, he gave us Trian.
Even the imperial servants do not stay here.”

“I like it.”

Her words were sincere.
When she heard Leonhardt’s grumbling, she thought they’d given them a hut that was all crumbling down.

At worst, like a horse stable…

Though in reality, Trian was a pretty two-story brick house.
It didn’t matter to the extent that there were no resident servants.

Hearing her words, his expression slowly softened.

“…Well then, I’m glad.”

 

***

 

It has been a week since they arrived at the Crown Prince’s Palace.
Celine really liked her life in Trian.
Life in an ordinary house, not in a huge castle or mansion.

“Lute Celine, now all you have to do is put the dough in the oven.”

At that, she followed Danny’s instructions and put the dough into the oven, and closed the door.

She didn’t really need to bake the bread because there was a dedicated cook who came with every meal.
Nonetheless, Celine wanted to bake bread by all means on this occasion.

After a while…

Danny tasted the steaming bread and said with a puzzled face.

“Lute doesn’t have any flair for cooking.
It’s okay.
You’re a powerful wizard!”

Celine smiled and took the bread, and took a large bite.
Although she did what Danny told her to do, it doesn’t taste that good.

But, Danny’s words were no exaggeration.

“…It really is.”

“Well, if Lute clicks your hand, the chef will bring all kinds of bread.
Don’t be too disheartened.”

—Bang!

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Suddenly, someone opened the door wide.

Celine sighed and turned her back.
Leonhard walked forward with an excited expression on his face.

“What else did His Highness Ricardo say this time?”

“He said he finally set a date.”

In one week.

According to the Crown Prince’s promise, it would have been time to inspect all of his aides.
However, the Crown Prince’s aides did not try to meet Leonhard Bernoulli using these and other excuses.

“That Marquis Montgomery or Mongomary is lying in bed with the flu, isn’t it?”

“It’s Montgomery.
And, this time for sure.”

He then began to explain the conversation he had with the Crown Prince a while ago.

An hour ago.

Leonhard arrived at the Crown Prince’s office with anger all the way to his head.

Yesterday, he ran all day and went to Marquis Montgomery’s residence, and the Maquis said he had severe flu and refused to even talk.

Treasurer Krelin went on a business trip to the South.

He only found out about it after he stormed into the Treasurer’s office.
Meanwhile, Countess Viera said her child had scarlet fever, and she refused to approach anyone.

Knight Commander Pavle Dehaka politely denounced Leonhard, saying that a duel for the honor of a gentleman was scheduled.
Other close associates of the Crown Prince also refused to investigate, giving various excuses.

It would be rude to refuse only after Leonhard took the time to get to their private residence or office.

“Is the investigation going well?”

“You know the situation better than anyone!”

The Crown Prince’s eyes narrowed.

“Don’t get agitated.
I called you to solve it.”

“….”

Leonhard bit his mouth tightly, fearing that he would be taken away for contempt of the Imperial Family if he had replied with something rude.

“I know my people avoid you…”

The Crown Prince uttered in a hard, stiff voice, “But, please understand.
It is not pleasant for them, or for me.”

Hearing that, he tried to keep his composure but failed.

“…It’s not something I want to do either.”

“I know, I know.”

The Crown Prince smiled.

“I don’t feel sorry for you, so don’t get me wrong.
Come on, look at this.”

Then, he handed him a long parchment.
Leonhard read through the parchment at high speed.

“Your Highness, this is…”

His voice was shaking, and he couldn’t speak properly.

“Did you ask for consent?”

“They were all welcoming.”

The content of the document was simple.
All the aides of the Crown Prince gathered at the banquet hall of the Crown Prince’s palace for one day and would be judged by Rashir.

Leonhard frowned.
Of course, this method was much simpler and would save much more time.
However, there was a reason he had visited their private residences and requested a one-on-one meeting until now.

“But, if there is a warlock among them…”

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“All my people will be at risk.”

Leonhard raised his head.

The Crown Prince was glaring at him with eyes that resembled an eagle hunting for his prey.

“Tell me.
If I knew there were warlocks among my people, would I come up with a plan like this?”

“Of course, I know you don’t know…!”

Leonhard knew he had made a mistake the moment he brought the words out of his mouth.
On the other hand, the Crown Prince, of course, did not miss the opportunity.

“Then, what about this? What if there were really warlocks among my people? Are they going to object?”

“…How would they object? The moment they oppose it, you will find out that they are a warlock.”

“If they entice a few people to oppose it together, it won’t be noticeable.”

The Prince looked at Leonhard before uttering his last words.

“Anyway, check it out for yourself.
I don’t care.
None of them would be warlocks.”

At that, Leonhard stood up respectfully.

The whole time he said his greeting and left, the Prince didn’t say a word, but his sharp gaze continued to press on Leonhard.

“…That was how it happened.”

Leonhard sighed and finished his explanation.

Celine just cut and organized it, “So, His Highness Ricardo is playing some kind of gamble.”

“Yes.”

“What do you think, Leonhard? Do you think His Highness is right?”

“I don’t know.”

Answering her, he seemed to be in deep thought.

“But, His Highness definitely has nothing to do with black magic.
It is not the situation that the Emperor is most concerned about.”

“His Highness Ricardo is quite reckless.”

“He’s that kind of person originally.”

Leonhard nodded his head.

“Well, it doesn’t matter since I’ve been the only person in danger so far… I don’t think he’d even put his close aides on the gambling board.”

Celine’s eyes widened.

“Why doesn’t that matter?”

He then looked at her with an expression that he did not understand before asking.

“What do you mean?”

“Why doesn’t it matter that Leonhard is in danger?”

“Well…”

His mouth shut after a few words.

In an instant, Celine’s tiny body burned with anger.

“Because it’s always been like that…? Or, because you’re strong? Leonhard is hurt too! Oh, if you have a body that doesn’t die, even if you die like me, please let me know.
I will take note.”

“No, no.”

She did not give Leonhardt time to argue, “Say it, I don’t die at all.
So, can I be in danger? More than Leonhard?”

“…Absolutely not.”

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“Then, Leonhard shouldn’t be in danger either.
Up until now, His Highness Ricardo was wrong.”

He gazed down at the woman who was so angry that her pale cheeks burned.
Had others heard, they would have been more than taken away for contempt of the imperial family.

Leonhard had to squeeze his strength from deep inside his stomach to answer.

“Thank you.”

“I didn’t mean to hear thank you.
Because Leonhardt is talking nonsense…”

Celine pointed to him the bread on her table.

“Danny baked it herself.
Please reflect while eating.”

As soon as he took a bite, Leonhard recognized who made the bread.

“…It’s edible.”

“Really?”

At his words, her face brightened in an instant.

“I don’t speak empty words.
Especially when it comes to eating, people who like sweets will hate it, but since it’s plain, it’s not bad.”

He glanced with pleasure at Celine, who hesitantly confided that, in fact, she had made it herself.

Even though a lump of salt got in his mouth, it felt sweet.

 

***

 

Finally, the day promised by the Crown Prince has arrived.

“Are you sure you want to go?”

“I’m bored because I’m alone.”

Celine replied with a slight whim, but both she and Leonhard knew it was not true.

The Crown Prince’s aides were all thirty-three.
If everyone was innocent, there was no problem.
However, if there was a warlock among them and reveals his identity… No matter if it was Leonhard, he couldn’t fight while protecting thirty-two hostages.

In the end, he nodded his head, and Celine began to prepare for the banquet.
Because it was the Prince’s unofficial banquet, she had to dress appropriately.

Danny immediately brought the corset.

“Lute Celine, I know you don’t like it, but you have to wear it.”

“If I wear it, I will die…”

Her words trailed off.

“….”

Without saying a word, Danny removed the corset and pulled out a long velvet dress.

After two hours of dressing up, she came out to the living room and saw Leonhard, dressed in a robe, waiting for her.

Celine felt her own mouth open like a fool.

A dark green robe with splendid embroidery subtly revealed Leonhard’s toned body, and the gleaming gold plaques attached to his shoulders further accentuated his sculptural face.

She came to her senses only after he asked a question.

“How is it?”

“…Um, it’s hard to move.”

She fiddled with the necklace with dozens of jewels covering her entire neck.
Obviously, she liked jewels and fancy dresses, but she was not very pleased thinking of the emergency situation.

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“I’ll have to order some more comfortable clothes before I go back because the tailors of the Imperial Capital are very skilled.”

Then, the cries of the horses were heard.
A carriage had arrived to take them to the banquet hall.

Leonhard extended his hand to Celine.

“Shall we go, Lady?”

After a while.

They arrived at the banquet hall building.

As soon as she entered the banquet hall, Celine felt as if she had entered a huge art gallery.

Murals covered the ceiling, floor, and walls, and colorful sculptures caught the eye.

Nonetheless, compared to the enormous size, the number of people who actually entered the banquet hall was exactly thirty-five.
There were no regular employees, such as bands or attendants.

Because what would happen here from now on should not be seen by anyone other than the parties involved.

Leonhard breathed a sigh of relief when he confirmed that all thirty-three aides of the Crown Prince had arrived.

“Lord Leonhard, when will you start working?”

A sarcastic voice came from somewhere.

He twisted the corner of his mouth, confirming that the speaker was Marquis Montgomery.
The Marquis looked very healthy for a man who had recently had severe flu.

“I am glad to see you are well, Marquis Montgomery.”

“Actually, I am still not good.
But, it’s His Highness Ricardo’s order, can I not follow it?”

With one hand, he brushed off his gray goatee’s beard, and the other reached out toward Leonhard.

No one saw Rashir come out of the scabbard.
Only Celine could feel a flash of light in the marquis’s left hand.

“Aaaaah—!”

Then, forgetting about his dignity, he grabbed his left hand and fell on the floor.

“Whoa…!”

Leonhardt checked the back of the writhing marquis’s hand.
A drop of red blood flowed from the tiny wound.

He got up and declared.

“The innocence of Marquis Montgomery has been proven.”

A startling silence fell throughout the banquet hall.
No one even moved, only intermittently the marquis’s screams resounded.

Countess Viera asked with a pale face.

“The pain, how long does it last?”

“It varies from person to person, but it will stop completely in thirty minutes.”

“….”

The Countess closed her eyes and held out her right hand to Leonhard.
In the next moment, a scream erupted from the mouth of the Countess.

Exactly thirty minutes.

It took him to prove the innocence of everyone in the banquet hall except for himself and Celine.

In the quiet banquet hall, only screams resounded.

“…Are you satisfied, Lord?”

Marquis Montgomery clenched his teeth and shouted.

“Did you see it? We are all innocent!”

At that moment, Celine’s clear voice resounded in the banquet hall.

“One is missing, Leonhard.”

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